The Weak Reasons Walmart and eBay Won't Disclose Their Gender Pay Gaps

March 2nd 2015

Alicia Lutes

Even though Walmart and eBay swear they're working to make their workplaces a more equal place (at least in terms of pay), they really don't want to talk about the specifics.

At least that's all we're left to deduce from both mega-corporations' flat-out denial of requests for that information to be disclosed. In a proposal filed by Arjuna Capital (the sustainable wealth platform of Baldwin Brothers, Inc.) on behalf of the company's shareholders, a demand for a report on eBay's current pay disparities between male and female employees, as well as goals to rectify the situation, has been made. A similar request was made by Walmart employee Cynthia Murray, according to The Guardian.

But, according to a statement obtained by Salon, eBay's board explained that releasing such information might be detrimental to their progress to bring about equality. 

"We remain committed to our ongoing efforts to promote diversity in the workplace and strongly believe we continue to make demonstrable progress in building a diverse eBay. As such, the Board feels that the proposal would not enhance the Company’s existing commitment to an inclusive culture or meaningfully further its goal and efforts in support of workplace diversity."

Walmart, on the other hand, says the release of this information could hurt them in a gender-based pay discrimination lawsuit. Their SEC filing say that "[t]he Company believes that disclosure of the information requested by the Proposal would adversely affect the Company's litigation strategy in a number of pending lawsuits and claims alleging gender-based discrimination in pay."

"The most prominent of these [lawsuits] is Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.," the filing explains. "In that case, the plaintiffs assert that the Company engaged in a pattern and practice of discriminating against women in pay, promotions, training, and job assignments, and seek, among other things, injunctive relief, front pay, back pay, punitive damages, and attorneys' fees."

The problem here being, of course, that they're worried about hurting their current cases or exposing themselves to more lawsuits. But, as the most recent lawsuit announcement — via Jim Kaster of Nichols Kaster, PLLP — against the company for gender pay inequality states, "we cannot forget that more than 1.5 million female workers alleged Wal-Mart discriminated against them in the workplace. The allegations in Dukes and subsequent actions following the 2011 Supreme Court decision are alarming to say the least; no business should be permitted to operate in such a manner, no matter the size. ... [W]e hope that the public will continue to recognize that this is a matter of social justice – a matter which we all have a stake."

And Kaster is right. Only through admission and acceptance of ones' wrongdoing (even if it's a mega-corporation worth billions) can we truly resolve any of this. And if further transparency was granted, it'd be a huge and necessary win for all minimum wage workers who are currently organizing in droves to raise the minimum wage with some success.